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City councillor pushes for women on Canadian currency

Last Updated Sep 29, 2015 at 4:13 pm EDT

Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney holds a new $100 bill in Ottawa on June 20, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Coun. Mary Fragedakis is joining the cause to encourage the Bank of Canada to feature prominent Canadian women on the money.

“There have been so many contributions made by woman in Canada,” she told CityNews. “The Queen is on the money because she’s the head of state – not because she’s made some contributions to Canada.”

The Ward 29 councillor will introduce a motion on Wednesday asking that the city formally request action from the Bank of Canada.

If passed, the motion, titled ‘Honouring the Contribution of Canadian Women,’ would see Toronto join Montreal in putting pressure on the Bank of Canada to to feature Canadian women on legal currency. In August Montreal city council voted 53-1 to call on the Bank of Canada and the Royal Canadian Mint to feature Canadian women bank notes and coins.

“Toronto is Canada’s largest city and we should do the same,” she explained. “Lots of conversation are happening all over the would about gender equality. If we are a city that subscribes with gender equality, we should reflect that.”

In 2011 the Bank of Canada, under the head of Mark Carney, decided to replace the only images of women on Canadian currency – the Alberta women known as the Famous 5, as well as the renowned activist Thérèse Casgrain – for an icebreaker.

Two years later author Merna Forster launched a national campaign calling for the Bank of Canada and the Minister of Finance to feature women from Canadian history on our bank notes. Since then over 65,000 people have signed the petition.

“It is important for women from Canadian history to be honoured on the symbols of our country – like bank notes.” the motion reads.

“When a national institution like the Bank of Canada fails to celebrate even a single woman from Canadian history on our notes, this is sexist,” the motion reads. “It clearly shows prejudice against Canadian women and is discriminatory.”

“Toronto as a City whose motto is “Diversity is our strength” should add its voice to this important national campaign as an acknowledgement of the poor representation of female persons on Canadian coins and bank notes,” it continues.

 

Many countries around the world feature prominent women on their money.

“We’re having debates about getting one woman on one note, there are other countries who have women on multiple notes,”said Fragedakis. “I think it’s an important vote and I really hope that it will be unanimous.”

Fragedakis said that should the Bank of Canada decide to add women to the money, the country should decide which prominent female should be featured.

However, she did offer up a few suggestions – Agnes McPhail, Margaret Atwood, one of the suffragettes and former Governor General Adrian Clarkson.

Which woman would you like to see on the money? Have your say in the comments below.